Flashcards in Psychological Abnormality Deck (63):
Definitions: What are the definitions of abnormality?
-Deviation from ideal mental health
-Failure to function
-Deviation from social norms
Ideal Mental Health: What is deviation from ideal mental health?
-Jahoda suggested it was preferable to identify the criteria for positive mental health. Jahoda identified common concepts used when describing mental health.
-If one or more of the qualities are not present in an individual, Jahoda suggested that people are vulnerable to mental disorders and the absence of ideal mental health.
Ideal Mental Health: What concepts did Jahoda identify when explaining deviation from mental health?
-Positive view of self: Have feelings of self worth, with a reasonable level of self esteem.
-Actualisation: To accomplish or complete oneself to your fullest potential.
-Autonomy: Don’t have to rely on other for everything and show a level of independence in their behaviour.
-Accurate view of reality: The view of the world around them is not distorted in any way.
-Environmental adaptability: Must be able to change their behaviour to make it appropriate for different environments.
-Resistance to stress: Must be able to deal with the regular stresses and strains of life. They must be flexible in their ability to work through potentially difficult situations.
Ideal Mental Health: What are the criticisms of deviation from ideal mental health?
+Positive view of mental disorders.
-What is considered mentally healthy varies across cultures.
-Presenting a false goal with ideal mental health.
Ideal Mental Health: How is positive view of mental disorders a criticism of deviation from ideal mental health?
This approach has the advantage of being positive. It seeks to identify the characteristics that people need in order to be mentally or psychologically healthy rather than identifying the problems. As a result, the six categories identified could be translated into useful therapetic goals.
Ideal Mental Health: How is culturally different mental health a criticism of ideal mental health?
What is considered mentally healthy varies considerably across cultures. The categories of ideal mental health will not apply to all cultures, and some are based on Western ideas, not shared by all cultures. Individual fulfillment is a particularly Westernised view but does not work well in cultures, such as China and the Middle-East who value collective responsibility, where the welfare of the wider family is as important as that of the individual, and there is little opportunity to be individual and aim for their own personal goals.
Ideal Mental Health: How is presenting a false goal a criticism of ideal mental health?
The system is positive in that it shifts the emphasis from illness to health, but in its assumption that there is an ideal mental health, it may be presenting a false goal. What is ideal for one person may not be ideal for someone else, and if the person does not reach the ideal because it is unachievable, people are bound to fail and feel inadequate.
Failure to Function: What is failure to function?
Rosenhan and Seligman (1989): They suggested to most suitable approach to defining mental abnormality is to identify a set of seven abnormal characteristics. When several are present, they are symptomatic of abnormality. The fewer features that are displayed, the more an individual can be regarded as normal.
Failure to Function: What are the seven abnormal characteristics from failure to function?
-Suffering: Most abnormal individuals report that they are suffering and so this is a key feature of abnormality.
-Maladaptiveness: Maladaptive behaviour prevents one from achieving important life goals and individual wellbeing, or behaviour that interferes seriously with the wellbeing of society is considered maladaptive, e.g. murder or arson. However some maladaptive behaviour may be caused by the lack of education and opportunity, resulting in poor intellectual and social skills.
-Irrationality/incomprehensibility: When behaviour seems to make no sense it is likely to be judged abnormal, e.g. when an individual’s perceptions seem to have no basis in reality. However, some behaviour that might appear irrational to observers may have a perfectly logical explanation, e.g. the effect of grief or pain.
-Unpredictability/loss of control: Usually, people behave in fairly controlled and predictable ways. Inconsistent and uncontrolled behaviour is often a feeling of abnormality.
-Unconventionally/vividness: Behaviour that is perceived as highly unusual may be deemed abnormal.
-Observer discomfort: People experience discomfort when they notice that someone’s behaviour is violating certain unspoken rules, leading to them feeling the individual is abnormal.
-Violation of moral and ideal standards: All societies have ideal standards that represent the way people ought to behave. There is a common view that it is ‘normal’ to behave accordingly to society’s ideals, and abnormal not to.
Failure to Function: What are the criticisms of failure to function?
-Relies heavily on personal judgement
-People who are labelled as 'failing to function' may behave in ways that match the label.
Failure to Function: How is relying on personal judgement a criticism of failure to function?
The application of the failure to function approach relies heavily on personal judgement to inform decisions about the presence or absence of abnormality. Judgements have to be made about the presence or absence of indicators of abnormality, and then about the degree to which these are having an effect. The process is made more difficult when you consider the fact that many abnormal behaviours are no more than exaggerations of normal behaviour. For example, it is normal to show grief at the less of a loved one, but at what point does this distress become abnormal grief.
Failure to Function: How is labeling a criticism of failure to function?
As with all forms of diagnosis, there is a danger with this definition of labelling. People who are labelled as failing to function, and therefore abnormal, may start to behave in ways that match the label. Once the label ‘criminal’ has been applied it is rather hard to shift. If a person has been in prison, then it is often difficult to find work from a mistrusting society. In these cases, the person may return to crime because it is easier to behave according to their label rather than struggle against it.
Social Norms: What is deviation from social norms?
Norms are unwritten rules, created by society to guide behaviour. They tell us which behaviours are expected and acceptable and they provide us with some sense of ‘order’ in society. Generally speaking, they are learned through early socialisation, that is, we pick them up from others around us during childhood. Norms vary from society to society, travel will cause us to encounter, and have to adjust to, the norms of societies.
Mental disorders are seen to be clearly abnormal due to the behaviours associated with them break norm.
Social Norms: What are the criticisms of deviation from social norms?
-Norms change over time
-Most people deviate from social norms
-Breaking social norms is not always a bad thing
Social Norms: How is norms change over time a criticism of deviation from social norms?
Societies change over time and so, therefore, so do norms. Because of this we cannot use opinions held in the past to judge a behaviour as deviant – it must be based on present day thinking. For example, homosexuality was considered a mental disorder until 1973. It is now legal and would not be considered abnormal. It is widely portrayed in the media and within most Western countries and is now a behaviour falling within most social norms.
Social Norms: How is most people deviate from social norms a criticism of deviation from social norms?
Most people deviate from social norms at some point in their lives; Gibson (1967) found high confession rate amongst people from prosecutable offences.
Social Norms: How is deviating from social norms not always a bad thing a criticism of deviation from social norms?
Breaking social norms in not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it can be a good thing and even stimulate positive social change. For example, slavery was once considered ‘normal’ in this society. However some members of this social group broke norms and opposed slavery, the eventual result was the abolition of slavery.
Approaches: What are the four approaches to psychopathology?
Biological Approach: What are the main assumptions of the biological approach?
-The biological approach assumes all mental disorders, like physical disorder, have a physical cause, such as problems with biological structures and processes in the brain and body.
-It proposes the main causes of abnormality are:
-Change in the function of the brain
Biological Approach: How does a change in brain function cause abnormality?
For example, a change in activity of neurotransmitters, Schizophrenia is associated with high levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine, whilst depression is associated with low levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin.
Biological Approach: How do genetics cause abnormality?
Research has shown there may be a genetic basis for disorders, for example: Gottesman carried out a meta-analysis of about 40 twin studies and found a concordance rate for schizophrenia of 48% in monozygotic twins (and 17% in dizygotic).
Biological Approach: How does brain damage cause abnormality?
For example, Alzheimer’s is caused by malformation of the brain, loss of brain tissue and loss of brain cells.
Biological Approach: How can we investigate aspects of the biological approach?
There are three methods of investigating this:
-Investigating identical twins (to show genetic basis), brain scanning, blood tests and controlled drug trials, where the effects of these on a disorder is assessed.
Biological Approach: What are the criticisms of the biological approach?
+There is concrete evidence from brain scans and biochemistry
+Research has supported assumptions made by this approach
-Effective therapies have been created but this does not eliminate the cause
Biological Approach: How is concrete evidence from brain scans and biochemistry a criticism of the biological approach?
There is concrete evidence from brain scans and biochemistry that abnormal brain function can cause a mental illness (loss of brain tissue found in Schizophrenics) which offers the approach extreme scientific credibility.
Biological Approach: How is the support of research a criticism of the biological approach?
Research has supported assumptions made by this approach – it has revealed both genetic and chemical basis for disorders, such as schizophrenia and high dopamine levels. This also gives the approach strong scientific credibility.
Biological Approach: How is the approach being largely reductionist a criticism of the biological approach?
This weakness is criticised for being largely reductionist, as it does not take all factors into account, such as past experiences and stressful events, meaning it may be too simplistic as it could be that abnormality is a result of many factors.
Biological Approach: How is the therapies created a criticism of the biological approach?
Although effective therapies have been created based on the biological model, it only deals with the symptoms, rather than the causes, this means as soon as people come off medication, they might begin to suffer from the disorder again.
Biological Approach: What therapies have been created based on the biological approach?
-Anti-psychotic, antidepressant, anti-anxiety
-Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT)
Behavioural Approach: What are the main assumptions of the behavioural approach?
-The Behavioural Approach assumes that all behaviour is learnt as a result of experiences, and can also be unlearnt.
-People with mental disordered have learned to be behave in a disordered way, which must be rewarding to the individual in some way. The symptoms will have arisen because the individual has learned ineffective ways of behaving.
-This approach also assumes that the same laws apply to human and non-human animals. Many of the ideas surrounding the behavioural approach are tested using animals (e.g. Pavlov’s dogs).
-According to the approach, behaviour and environment are the only important factors to consider in abnormality – the mind is obsolete as it cannot be observed.
-It suggests behaviour is learnt in three ways:
Behavioural Approach: What is classical conditioning?
We can associate things with one another if they frequently occur together. This is an example of phobias, with the case study of Little Albert. Although Albert was not afraid of white rats, after hearing a loud banging noise, which scared him, at the same time as seeing the rat and eventually when the white rat was displayed to Little Albert he showed fear as he had associated the rat with the noise.
Behavioural Approach: What is operant conditioning?
Abnormal behaviour may be learnt if the behaviour is reinforced or rewarded in a number of ways. This may include attention, praise, food, money or presents. For example, a phobia could be learnt in this way, if a young child gets a treat to stop them being scared of something, which encourages the behaviour more, eventually leading to a phobia.
Behavioural Approach: What is vicarious conditioning?
This is where people learn by imitating and observing role-models. We are more likely to imitate a behaviour if we seen them get positive reinforcement. We can learn abnormal behaviours through others. This can be used to explain eating disorders to some extent, e.g. some girls may aim to lose weight to imitate thin celebrities to get the same compliments they do. This could develop into anorexia.
Behavioural Approach: What are the criticisms of the behavioural approach?
+Does not blame the person who is suffering
-Focuses on symptoms rather than cause
-It is deterministic
Behavioural Approach: How is the approach not blaming the sufferer a criticism of the behavioural approach?
A strength of this approach is that it does not blame the person suffering the abnormality – it is not the person’s fault as they have simply learnt the disorder due to their upbringing and environment – they are not held responsible. It is therefore a humane and ethical approach as the patient is not stigmatised. However, parents and society would perhaps receive blame.
Behavioural Approach: How is the extremely scientific nature a criticism of the behavioural approach?
This approach is extremely scientific – as the approach only focuses on observable behaviour, it can be precisely operationalised (defined) and measured. It is easy to come to objective conclusions and research is carried out with high precision and control – it is easy to test and can be falsified. This gives the approach scientific support and credibility.
Behavioural Approach: How is the approach focusing on the symptoms rather than causes a criticism of the behavioural approach?
A weakness of this approach is that it focuses on the symptoms a patient displays rather than the underlying causes beneath it – for example, for phobia, it simply attempts to unlearn it, but does not focus on why it propped up in the first place – often, once a phobia is cured, it is likely another one will soon prop up (symptom substitution) and does not cure fully.
Behavioural Approach: How is the approach being deterministic a criticism of the behavioural approach?
A weakness of this approach is that it is deterministic – it sees humans as passive creatures which have no free will or do not think for themselves. It assumes abnormality is determined by the environment and an individual has no control – this is pessimistic, too simplistic and can bring up important moral implications. For example, with this approach, if someone is a psychopath and goes around killing everybody, it is not their fault because they have no control.
Behavioural Approach: What therapies have been created based on the behavioural approach?
Cognitive Approach: What are the main assumptions of the cognitive approach?
The main assumptions of the cognitive approach are that all abnormality and mental disorders are the result of fault and irrational thinking.
-All cognitions (thoughts and attitudes) direct our behaviour and emotions. It focuses on the ways people think, rather than the problem, as this is believed to cause the disorder (depression etc) – faulty cognitions stop people from behaving normally.
-The cognitive approach also believes that the individual is in complete control – this is the only approach to argue that a person is able to control their own thoughts and so, they are able to control their abnormality. All the person needs to do is alter their thinking and their abnormality will be cured.
-Ellis developed the ABC model to explain this further.
Beck believed that depression was the result of underlying negative thoughts. He identified two ideas that explained depression: the cognitive triad and errors in logic.
Cognitive Approach: What is the ABC model?
Ellis developed the ABC model (1962) to explain the cognitive approach further: the A (activating event) is an event that can bring about a B (belief – rational or irrational) and this belief brings about C (consequence – rational or irrational depending on the belief). The irrational consequence, from the irrational belief if the abnormal behaviour.
Cognitive Approach: What is the cognitive triad?
These are three forms of negative thinking that someone who is depressed is likely to think. They will possess negative views about the world (‘Everyone hates me’), negative views about the future (‘I’ll never achieve anything’), and negative views about yourself (‘I am useless’).
Cognitive Approach: What is errors in logic?
Beck also said that people who are depressed will use faulty logic – they will make sweeping, nonsensical overgeneralisations on the basis of something small. If you have negative thoughts, it will lead to negative emotion which may lead to depression.
Cognitive Approach: What are the criticisms of the cognitive approach?
+Focuses on the present thoughts of the individual
-Places blame on the participants
-Unclear whether abnormality causes faulty thinking or faulty thinking causes abnormality
Cognitive Approach: How is not deterministic a criticism of the cognitive approach?
The approach believes the patient to have free will and so it is not deterministic – this is empowering for person as they can take control and make their own decisions in regards to their abnormality.
Cognitive Approach: How is it focusing on the present a criticism of the cognitive approach?
The approach focuses on the present thoughts of an individual and does not focus on the past like the psychodynamic approach but focuses on changing them– this is good as memory is not reliable and the most important aspect is the patient’s present condition.
Cognitive Approach: How is it blaming the participants a criticism of the cognitive approach?
As the approach believes the individual is in control, it places great blame on the patient suffering the abnormality – if it’s their own thoughts that cause the abnormality, they may blame themselves and are stigmatised as the approach assumes it is their fault. Ellis had little sympathy for the depressed, saying they were indulging themselves in self-defeating thoughts. This is therefore an unsympathetic, unethical and inhumane approach.
Cognitive Approach: How is it being unsure of cause and effect a criticism of the cognitive approach?
It is unclear as to whether abnormality causes faulty thinking or faulty thinking causes abnormality. It can therefore be argued that this approach focuses on the symptoms a patient displays rather than the underlying causes beneath it as it only focuses on changing the faulty thought rather than finding out the real cause.
Cognitive Approach: What therapies have been created based on the cognitive approach?
Rational emotive Behavioural Therapy (REBT). It is a form of CBT
Psychodynamic Approach: What are the main assumptions of the psychodynamic approach?
-The psychodynamic approach believes that mental disorders are the result of unresolved unconscious conflict of childhood, and Freud believes that we repressed our painful memories from our childhood into the unconscious section of our minds.
-Frued believed that the mind had three components and mental disorders may also be the unresolved conflicts between the Id, Ego and Superego.
-Another area that could cause abnormality is over- or under-indulging in the psychosexual stages.
-If conflicts are not corrected, it could lead to the use of defence mechanisms.
Psychoanalysists believe the root of the abnormality needs to be brought into the conscious mind to be dealt with.
Psychodynamic Approach: What is the Id?
The ‘pleasure principle’ and is found in the unconscious part of our mind. It is our innate drive to satisfy our wants and needs.
Psychodynamic Approach: What is the Ego?
The ego exists in both the conscious and unconscious parts of the mind and acts as the rational part, known as the ‘reality principle’. It contains our concern for what is socially acceptable, consequences and other’s opinions.
Psychodynamic Approach: What is the Superego?
The superego is in both the conscious and unconscious mind and it decides what is morally right and wrong.
Psychodynamic Approach: How can imbalance between the id, ego and superego cause abnormality?
If any of the parts of the brain become unbalanced the individual could be considered abnormal, e.g. acting too rationally (ego overpowering) or always acting on impulse (id overpowering).
Psychodynamic Approach: What are the psychosexual stages?
-Oral Stage (0-1 years)
-Anal Stage (2-3 years)
-Phallic Stage (3-5/6 years) (Odeipus/Electra Complex)
-Latent Stage (5/6-puberty)
-Genital Stage (puberty-adult)
Psychodynamic Approach: How can the psychosexual stages cause abnormality?
Anal Stage: The child derives great pleasure from defecating.
-Early or harsh potty training can lead to the child becoming an anal-retentive personality who hates mess, is obsessively tidy, punctual and respectful of authority. This could eventually lead to OCD.
Psychodynamic Approach: What are defense mechanisms?
We use defense mechanisms to protect ourselves from feelings of anxiety or guilt, which arise because we feel threatened, or because our id or superego becomes too demanding. They are not under our conscious control, and are non-voluntaristic.
Psychodynamic Approach: How can defence mechanisms cause abnormality?
For example, repression, where unacceptable thoughts are pushed into the unconscious mind.
-Early experiences in childhood may cause a disorder as our ego is not developed enough to deal with trauma so these memories are repressed. For example with depression – a loss in childhood was repressed, but a loss was experienced in adulthood (death of a parent) and all the repressed negative emotions are felt again and this leads to depression.
Psychodynamic Approach: What are the criticisms of the psychodynamic approach?
+Made a large impact on psychology
-Difficult to test
-Lacks population validity
Psychodynamic Approach: How is making a large impact on psychology a criticism of the psychodynamic approach?
The psychodynamic approach has made a large impact on psychology as it has highlighted the importance of childhood development and their effect on mental disorders. This is supported by Bifulco et al (1992) where evidence was found that children whose mothers died in childhood were more likely to experience depression later in life than other children.
Psychodynamic Approach: How is being difficult to test a criticism of the psychodynamic approach?
In order to prove that the abnormality did arise from childhood development, means a direct link needs to be found between childhood experience and the abnormality. As this relies on memories from childhood which may be likely to be false along with sleep analysis or hypnosis which involves getting into the unconscious mind with no way of knowing if what is being said is correct or just imagination.
Psychodynamic Approach: How is lacking population validity a criticism of the psychodynamic approach?
Freud created his theory based on analysis of white, middle-class Viennese women who all suffered from neurosis. He then generalised these findings to the whole population, meaning it could be considered they lack population validity and therefore so does the initial approach.